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Coping with a COVID-19 Diagnosis

Lourdes Abreu Torres
Alexandra Davies has spent the last few weeks quarantined with a Covid-19 diagnosis in the Pocasset home she shares with four roommates.

Alexandra Davies of Pocasset is among those who've tested positive for COVID-19. The 23-year-old Americorps member spoke with WCAI's Eve Zuckoff recently about her experience with symptoms and treatment at Falmouth Hospital. Davies began by saying she started showing symptoms around March 15th, when she was showing a friend some exercises.

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Alexandra Davies: I just was wheezing on the floor for, I want to say, three or four hours. It felt like someone had wrapped themselves around my chest and throat and just squeezed me way too hard. My lungs couldn't get enough air into them. I just kept wheezing. It was just very audible breathing through my mouth and my nose whenever I tried to get a breath out or in. So I just sat there and tried to ride it out. Eventually it went away. And then I decided that, oh, I probably need to get tested now. ‘I think I have it.’

She was tested at the drive-through testing site at Cape Cod Community College. It was confirmed she had covid-19.   

Eve Zuckoff: And then, what have you been doing for the last ten days? What has the arc been?

Alexandra Davies: It's been two weeks since I got the initial symptoms. I've just been kind of hanging out in my bed, really getting acquainted with it. I've been reading, talking to people on the phone, taking care of plants in my room when I’m not feeling very tired. But there are days when it's just, like, I don't really want to get out of bed. It's kind of hard to get up and move. I haven't really had a high fever. I've just been hanging out in like the 99  degree range. My symptoms have been manageable.  It's annoying, but not enough to put me in an E.R.. 

Eve Zuckoff: Can you explain to me a little bit more about what happened today, that you felt like you needed to go to the hospital? 

Alexandra Davies: The past week I was kind of feeling better. Tuesday I was sitting outside all day. It was almost the end of two weeks. But then I woke up Wednesday morning and was horribly tired. I slept through the whole day. And somewhere towards the afternoon [or] nighttime, I ended up getting a low-grade fever again. So today I was just kind of concerned that, like, ‘Oh, I don't know what to do with this. I should probably go to the hospital now. It could turn into pneumonia or bronchitis. I don't know what's happening with my lungs.’ I was concerned, so I asked to be checked out. 

Eve Zuckoff: And when you were in the hospital, what did you see? What does it look like in a hospital right now? 

Alexandra Davies: You don't really go into a hospital right now when you have Covid. There are tents outside and you kind of have to wait in your car, which is very ominous. And they call you on a phone that they give you, and then you have to wait to go into the tent. The person in the tent is also very suited up. It's kind of terrifying. There's like a whole hospital set up, but you're just very separated from everyone else. 

Eve Zuckoff: How many people were in there? 

Alexandra Davies: It was just me and the nurse. I ended up talking to a doctor through an iPad. When I had to get a chest X-ray they had to call me from my car to come in. And then it was a very in-and-out thing. [I was] being very careful of what I touched and what not—as little contact as possible. 

Eve Zuckoff: OK. I'm sure you've been absorbing some amount of this, at least, through news. And we're hearing a lot about deaths, even of young people. I mean, how have you processed that kind of possibility in this moment? 

Alexandra Davies: I've never thought, "Oh, I'm going to die from this." People have it much worse than me. Sure, my symptoms are hindering in a way. But at no point did I think I was going to be the next death on the Barnstable County toll. It has been hard to, I guess, think about what's going to happen to me in the future, since they don't know what this disease does to you. It's very scary to not be able to breathe as well as you used to and have the comfort that you're not going to wake up in the morning wheezing or choking. 

Eve Zuckoff: Yeah. Is there anything else that you haven't said that you've noticed or observed, before I thank you and let you go lay in your bed? 

Alexandra Davies: It's just been hard. Mentally. But I'm trying to figure out a way to cope through it, I guess. I think we're not focusing on mental health with this enough. I don't think it's put out there how stressful it is to just be quarantined, let alone have Covid itself and be separated from everyone that you know and love. There's no, "You'll get better soon." There's no hugs. There's no reassuring pats on the back. It's just a hard question, since this is such a surreal and dystopian experience. 

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.